Apple is making an announcement later today – 18:00 BST, 10:00 PDT – and apparently you can find out pretty much everything already by reading rumour websites. I’ve got an easier solution: just don’t buy any Apple products until after the announcement.
You can wait until tomorrow, you know you can. In the meantime, I will be watching the announcement because Apple puts on a bit of a show. It’s exactly the same show every time but it’s usually well done and I usually end up at least wanting to spend some money afterwards, if I don’t actually end up spending some money afterwards.
Times being what they are, ie September, though, you can be sure that iOS 10 will be included in the show and that’s free. It’s been in beta for some months and I’ve grown terribly keen on almost all of it.
You can watch the Apple announcement direct from the company itself right here. One thing about it does give me pause: the last time Apple made one of its announcements I was writing for a website called MacNN and had a really good time covering it. It was like being back in a newsroom. Now MacNN is closed and so I’ll be watching today’s Apple news like a viewer again. That won’t change the news and it can’t matter to anyone but me, but it matters to me.
And the unexpected benefits of what seemed like a thing I’d never use.
So, previously: my gorgeous 27in iMac is away off with the faeries – i.e. being seen to by Apple – and while it’s gone, I’m working on my old and I had thought underpowered MacBook Pro. It’s not underpowered. For the most part it’s doing its job well, I am doing my job fine. It’s got a broken keyboard but I’ve plugged in my iMac’s one and that’s all tickety-boo fine.
What’s really changed is that I’ve started using the Mac’s Full Screen jobbie. In pretty much any software you use on a Mac, you can tap a button or press a key to make that app fill the screen – and hide everything else. I have never used it before. I don’t want 27 inches of white blazing out at me when I’m writing.
Plus, it’s a slightly clunky idea because of the way you get back from this full screen lark to regular larking. You mouse up a bit until the menu bar reappears, then you find the button. Somehow a bit ugly.
Yet with a much smaller screen, I tried using this in one app and I’ve liked it so much that I’m using it in every app. I find I can swap between these full screen applications like moving from Word to Safari without closing the full screen, moving to the other app and reopening the full screen. Just the usual Command-Tab takes me through full screens.
Not always very smoothly. I seem to end up paused, hovering over the desktop for a time while it all figures itself out. But usually, I’m in Safari now, I’m in Mail next, it’s a quick thing and not anywhere near as disruptive to concentration as I thought.
But here’s the thing. Concentration. What I didn’t appreciate was that full screen apps hide their menu bar and that means they hide the clock. Hiding the clock turns out to be excellent: I could focus on the thing I was doing and spend whatever time it took. Of course, I have to leave for a meeting in a while so I couldn’t ignore time altogether but for about 90 minutes, I could.
Time passed but I was entirely focused on the job and if I sometimes longed for a tea break, I didn’t once stop to think about whether I had enough time to carry on.
If you’re not on a Mac, thank you for reading this far, and go find a way to switch off that damn clock. It’ll help you.
I’ve looked at what are called launchers – software that means with a keystroke or two you can zoom off launching apps, doing google searches, working just about anything on your Mac – and I did not do it as well as these people.
Curiously, I came to the same conclusion: Alfred 2 is the best. But reading their reasoning has both sold me on my own option and quadrupled how useful I think the app is:
We wouldn’t consider the OS X app launcher space a crowded one, but there are enough options out there that could make oneself think twice about clicking the download button. After numerous keystrokes and much reflective deliberation, we think that Alfred is the favorite launcher for Mac OS X.
It’s fair to say that Microsoft Office is no longer the beast it was. It used to be that if there were a new version of Office, you bought it. Now we’re in 2015 and enough people still use an old version of Word that you’re wise sending documents around in that older format, the .doc one.
But the new format, .docx, was introduced in 2007. It would once have been unimaginable that people skipped eight years of updates but now it’s normal.
So any new version of Office that comes along had better pack some compelling reasons to upgrade. I have no idea whether the next edition has anything that good – but I’m about to find out and you can too.
For Microsoft has today released a free preview of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac. You can get it here. It’s a fairly big download that is currently struggling on my slow internet connection but yours is faster, off you go.
Microsoft would hope you do. It would also hope that you love it so much that when the preview is over and the real product is released that you’ll pony up and buy it. If you do that, it will be because this is really good and really useful – so let’s hope so too.
This is what I like. Sod the fantasy vision of the future, I like it when a company puts its money where its mouth is and lets us actually use something. I like it even better when they do an Apple and reveal something flashy and end with the line “available today”.
Some rogueishly handsome fella over on MacNN.com wrote a review of a OS X utility called WordTarget:
It’s a menubar utility for OS X which simply counts every word. Every time you hit the space bar, that’s another word counted, and that’s fine. No debate there. It does also count hyphens, though, so self-starter is treated as two words, which seems like cheating. To balance that out, however, it does not subtract words when you delete them. Actually, we found that if you highlight some words and delete them all, your word count goes up by one.
That’s probably a bug, and it’s not a significant error: the odd word here or there is not going to make much difference if you’re writing a 170,000-word book, for instance. However, it is significant that it won’t recognize that you’ve deleted whole passages. If you are really doing this to hit a Charlie Brown-like mandated word count, you’ll have to keep this in mind.
But WordTarget is meant for people who are aiming at an ideal number of words rather than a specific commissioned length. Novelists who decide they’re going to write 1,000 words per day no matter what, for instance, they’re the market here. You can presume that WordTarget sales go up every November during NaNoWrMo, where hopeful writers need to hit an average of 1,600 words per day.
It’s fair to say that the first person to stick leaves in their mouth and set fire to it wasn’t really thinking ahead. But who could’ve foreseen this? It is reportedly possible that your e-cigarette is just waiting for you to plug it into your PC or Mac so that it can do some damage. Deliberate, malicious, profitable damage:
Many e-cigarettes can be charged over USB, either with a special cable, or by plugging the cigarette itself directly into a USB port. That might be a USB port plugged into a wall socket or the port on a computer – but, if so, that means that a cheap e-cigarette from an untrustworthy supplier gains physical access to a device.
A report on social news site Reddit suggests that at least one “vaper” has suffered the downside of trusting their cigarette manufacturer. “One particular executive had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined,” the user writes. “After all traditional means of infection were covered, IT started looking into other possibilities.
“The made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system.”
If this were chocolate, I’d be talking about having some perspective and how this is surely a tiny proportion of all e-chocolate systems. But since it’s just smoking, what the hell? Go crazy, panic, stop smoking, it’s fine. Read the full piece.
There are things you do every day that you don’t realise others have no idea about. This week I demonstrated 1Password to two friends and told them that actually, no, we had to stop to discuss this because it was my civic duty. They’d just told me they use the same password everywhere. Yes. I shuddered too.
And I showed them 1Password. But it was a quick race through how I use it on my iPad whereas there is more you can and I do use on the Mac. This article by Melissa Holt popped up just as I was thinking about this and I think she says it better than I do. Except for one thing: I’d point out that while she and I are Mac users, all of this applies to the Windows version of 1Password too.
Here. Have some enthusing and then the start of tips to get more out of it. If you have 1Password, go use all this stuff now. And if you don’t have it, thank you for reading so far through this piece and see? Isn’t it great? Usually?
It’s no secret that AgileBits’ 1Password is pretty much my favorite thing since ever. It’s the one app that I recommend to all Mac users, and I’m passionate about people using the program to generate and fill in unique passwords for all of their online accounts. Let’s face it, if you aren’t using an app like 1Password to manage your digital life, then you either have a notebook full of your login details (not safe!) or you’re using 75 variations of your dog’s name as passwords on the sites you visit (doubly not safe!).
If you already have 1Password, though, there are a few neat tricks to be aware of to get the most out of its awesomeness. My favorite tip is that in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox, the keyboard shortcut Command-\ will either automagically fill in the login for a page you’re on, or if you have multiple logins to pick from for that site, it’ll bring up the dialog box for you to choose between them. That’s much faster than clicking on the toolbar icon to open it!
They’ll join OmniFocus, which I may have mentioned one or a thousand times before. There’s no timescale yet but the Omni Group is looking for beta testers for the apps:
Are any of you interested in helping us test our apps before they’re ready to submit to the App Store? We’re working on bringing all of our iPad apps to the iPhone, so we have a lot of testing to do! And with Apple’s new TestFlight Beta Testing program, we’re able to invite up to 1,000 of our customers to test our apps while they’re still under development.
There’s not a lot more detail in the full piece but it does include instructions on how to apply to be a beta tester. I think that 1,000 Apple-imposed testing limit will fill up very quickly so go take a look now if you fancy it. I’ve applied but I only really know OmniFocus: as much as I use OmniOutliner, I’d say I’m a very basic user of it. I’m looking at OmniPlan but haven’t even glanced at OmniGraffle.
So for me the news here is that at some point soon we’re going to have OmniOutliner on iPhone and that’s big.
You have to suspect that this move is related to the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I’m currently sticking with my iPhone 5 so I’m curious to see both how these apps work on that and whether their presence will change how I use the iPad versions.
I’m not very keen on Outlook but it is a gigantically popular app and it’s good to see it being updated:
Today we are announcing the new Outlook for the Mac, which delivers improved performance and reliability and a fresh look and feel that is unmistakably Microsoft Office. This release offers a more familiar and consistent experience between Outlook on the PC, Outlook on the web and Outlook Web App (OWA) for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
The new Outlook for Mac includes:
Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements.
A new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs.
When first released in 1984, the Apple Macintosh shipped with a black-and-white 512 x 342 display. Fast forward 30 years to the release of the iMac with Retina 5K display, which ships with a 5,120 x 2,880 display with support for millions of colours. That’s an increase from 175,000 pixels to more than 14.7 million – an 8,400% increase. 80 of the original Macintosh displays fit within a single Retina 5K display1.
The stats are astounding, but to really put things in perspective, take a look at the image below, showing the original Macintosh display overlaid on a promotional image that Apple has been using to showcase the massive size of the new iMac’s display.